Internet Gaming Addiction

Technological change is rapid. The internet has become an indispensable tool of the modern age. For teenagers, using the smartphone to chat, check information, or do homework has almost become a unified global phenomenon. Of course, many people also lose themselves in the world of online games, causing innumerous challenges for parents.

In the past few years, I held various workshops and seminars, meeting many teenagers’ parents who face the problem of children playing online games. The parents tried very hard to help their children lead a more balanced life but progress seems tiny. Some parents got so mad that they smashed the family computer, but the online gaming attraction remains relentless. How to effectively communicate with the children, reach an amicable agreement is something which can greatly challenge the parents’ wisdom.

As for me, raising four children, it’s also become a problem that I have to face alongside my husband. Ten years ago, when my eldest daughter was in grade eight, she started playing action puzzle games involving popping matching bubbles. My husband has to use the family computer and often faces difficulty getting my eldest daughter to limit her computing time. My second daughter saw how the tension rose between her elder sister and her father and thus does not play games. Later on, when my elder son was in high school, he started playing online games. We prevent him from playing violent games such as League of Legends and Call of Duty, thus he plays Disney’s Toontown which involves cartoon characters fighting diabolical robots. We often had heated conversations regarding his time spent playing computer games. So, the younger son saw that his brother isn’t on good terms with his parents due to online games thus shifting his spare time activity to reading and 3D printing. The younger son knows how to please us parents and became our great comfort. Every child is truly different, with the same education, yet producing different results.


The Challenge of Team-based Games

When the first son started playing Toontown in grade five, the game was still an offline game. It later developed into an online game and made many parents discover that the child spent too much time playing, without self-control. Especially elementary school children. Disney was forced to close down the game and the first son stopped playing. Who knew that half-a-year later, there’s an alternative version of the game that was released. The daily play limit is 3 hours with playing allowed only on alternate days or through waiting in an online queue. It took such a long time for him to get out of the offline game and now he has been re-invited. This is the beginning of a nightmare for our family. When we gather together for dinner, he is always slow to be ready. He started to refuse to do more time-consuming chores, with his younger brother taking up the slack. His temper started slipping and he also started swearing, with self-control diminishing.

Once he even told us that we should be grateful he is such a good son, with other children playing games involving killing, only he listens to his parents and refuses to play violent games, thus choosing to play Toontown. He knows that many teenagers play this game, he only does so out of casualness. This made his father very mad. I withheld my immediate response and used the regular Family Time to discuss this with the entire family.

One day after dinner, we held our regular Family Time, we discussed how to set the bottom line for playing online games. The brother said that many friends play, of course he has an interest in playing, as he wants to play and participate in the teenager’s culture. The higher your score, the more other people will praise you. If you don’t play games, then you don’t have a common topic, friends will laugh at you and say you have no life. I asked out of curiosity, why does his younger brother have no problem with not playing online games. He replied that his younger brother is too bad at the game and thus chose not to play. The younger son told me that during lunchtime, almost all the classmates and friends are talking about which games are fun, with only him and another Korean student discussing technological trends. The player base of online games is indeed sizable. To prevent my son from becoming addicted to computer games, we discussed how to set up acceptable rules for computer game usage time. One consensus is to use two hours max per day, with the computer being turned off at 11PM at the latest, with no playing during the week (Unless homework is finished first). At the same time, the children agree that the school agenda will be used in order to verify that all the homework is done.

After discussing with the children, we found that online games are more addictive than offline games, because online games often involve teams of four to eight people, playing in sessions between twenty to thirty or forty minutes. If you stop half-way, it affects your team’s score. In order to make the players stay attracted to the game, there are various game updates, plus a little reward every little while (approximately every 10 minutes or so), using numbers and visual effects, which lets you feel as though you should stay and play for as long as you can. When you play on a team, the emotional response of the game reflected in the players are very alluring, building a close virtual connection, while offline games can often be stopped whenever possible.


The Way To Prevent Internet Addiction

In order to help my children move away from the control of games step by step, I would talk with my children’s classmates whenever possible to understand if they play games. I welcome them to my home but with the rule that they cannot play computer games. With the revival of Toontown, the hurt that the eldest son inflicted upon the family is immense. In order to prevent him from having too much spare time and wanting to go back to the allure of the online world of games, we try to spend as much time as possible participating in activities which are engaging for both parent and child. For example ping pong, board games, etc. to create more chances for interaction.


How to Prevent Children From Getting Addicted?

First, we suggest putting the computer in the public area or den, so you can know when the child is playing games.

Second, through parental control in Windows 7 settings you can set time slots when the computer can be used. In Windows 8 you can record the daily computer usage time. In Windows 10 you can control internet settings of the above two control functions. Using remote surveillance, you will be helping your child to step away from internet addiction. For the necessary details, you can visit the following website:

Thirdly, through the use of the internet modem and router, you can set the laptop, tablet, or smartphone internet usage time. Besides control of internet usage time, you can also restrict children from visiting inappropriate websites. In summary, using Family Time sessions and talking with your children early on about acceptable use of the computer can lower the addiction level and risk. Guide your child to be a master of the technology, not to be enslaved by it, spend more time interacting with the children, head outdoors to parks, and let the children’s offline life become rich and abundant so they grow up cultivated with the truth.


The 8 signs of Internet Addiction

Psychologists have found that if the subject has at least five of the following eight signs, then the subject can be designated as having internet addiction. If the subject spends more than 40 hours online per week, then it’s even more certain that the subject is addicted to the internet and should seek professional help. The following eight signs are:

  1. Concentrating life on online or internet activity, with offline time spent reminiscing upon the internet world.
  2. Feels the need to spend more time online in order to feel fulfillment.
  3. Has tried hard to control or stop internet usage, but always fails.
  4. Tries to decrease or stop internet usage, but feels discouraged and low, feels easily angered.
  5. Time spent online is more often than anticipated.
  6. In order to go online, doesn’t pay attention to losses in interpersonal relationships or care about education or grades.
  7. Lies to family members, friends, or other people about the depth of involvement with the internet.
  8. Going online to escape from the feeling of helplessness, sin or anxiety, discouragement. 


This internet disorder is spreading fast amongst many nations. The Internet Gaming Disorder has already been listed as under active observation by the American Society of Psychiatrists. In the future it may be a designated Mental Disorder.